OGUN, Nigeria (VOICE OF NAIJA) – Arsenal crushed champions Chelsea with a masterful performance in front of a record-breaking crowd at Emirates Stadium, guaranteeing that their Women’s Super League championship defence will not be an easy one.
After suffering their first league loss of the season in front of 59,042 fans, a new WSL record—the Gunners are now tied for first place with the leaders, who lead only on goal difference.
After just eight minutes, England striker Beth Mead gave Arsenal the perfect start with a goal of her own, but Johanna Rytting-Kaneryd of Chelsea rallied against the run of play to equalize.
Chelsea’s goal did little to kick them into gear and instead ignited even more energy from Arsenal, who went on to dominate the first half and saw out their victory after the break.
Chelsea goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger failed to make contact when she came out to collect a corner and left Amanda Ilestedt with an open goal for Arsenal’s second, and the Gunners were 3-1 up at half-time thanks to a cool Alessia Russo finish.
Chelsea boss Emma Hayes was visibly frustrated throughout and made three changes at half-time, as well as a formation switch, in an attempt to turn things around.
But while it slowed some of Arsenal’s momentum, Chelsea never really looked like getting back into the game and Russo confirmed the three points were staying in north London when she added a fourth goal from the penalty spot.
Any suggestion that Chelsea were going to run away with the league this season was quickly silenced as Arsenal turned up full of aggression and intent at Emirates Stadium.
They put Chelsea on the back foot immediately and visiting manager Hayes spent the majority of the first half flapping her arms in frustration and in deep conversation with defenders Jess Carter and Niamh Charles.
She unleashed her frustration on England forward Lauren James when Arsenal were once again allowed too much space on the right in the first half. James herself could not hide her emotions when she stood on Arsenal’s Lia Walti after giving away a free-kick in the second half and was fortunate to avoid a red card.
Arsenal striker Russo was a constant threat, making dangerous runs in behind and linking with midfielders Kim Little and Walti – the Switzerland captain providing an exquisite through ball for Russo’s first goal shortly before half-time.
The Gunners could have added to their tally late on as Chelsea piled numbers forward in an attempt to come away with something vaguely positive and gaps opened up at both ends.
However, it was obvious who was the superior team, and Arsenal is more than capable of taking home the WSL championship in current form. Still, Chelsea’s performance is rarely always as poor as it was this time.